BASICS: "Hummingbirds.....where is the person, I ask, who, on observing this glittering fragment of the rainbow, would not pause, admire, and turn his mind with reverence..." (J. J. Audubon).
This is a blog about my summer life at the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary, at my winter garden, Calypso, in the Bahamas, and aspects of life in general.
This private sanctuary is now permanently closed to the general public, as a result of a lawsuit brought by a neighbor. Only my friends and personal guests may visit (

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Internet was Down - catching up

Rain caused a problem somewhere far away on my phone line, and internet was down for 3 days. Here are a few recent vids.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Fred direct

The livestreams from the sanctuary are rather blurry, but this is mainly due to the digital zooming I'm forced to do because Fred's perch is 100 feet away from the camera, rather than due to my very limited upload bandwidth. Here's a part of today's livestream but the recording was done direct to the disc on the camera rather than via the Youtube livestream process. This recording was then slowly uploaded to Youtube, but here the bandwidth isn't a limiting factor, yet the video is almost as blurry as the livestreams.
One possible way to avoid this problem would be to use a more powerful telephoto lens, in conjunction with a interchangeable lens camera, but this could be very expensive, and clearly would not work as long as my upload bandwidth is poor. I had hoped to install satellite internet (Viasat) but unfortunately this cannot be done on the roof of the back cabin because of trees, It can be done on the roof of the front cabin, but unfortunately I'm having this re-roofed because a racoon made a large hole up there, and this process keeps getting delayed because of the possibility of rain.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

young hummers starting to show

I'm starting to see what I think are recently fledged hummingbirds visiting the sanctuary, sneaking in when Fred isn't around.
In the first one, the newbie stays well hidden, in the second he visits some salvias that are starting to bloom (Black and Blue and Waverly)

Monday, July 16, 2018

Noise Doubles Heart Attack Rates

We live in an increasingly cacophonous world. Even here in Baiting Hollow, where the background noise level (in the absence of aircraft) is around 20 dB, quiet is rare, mainly because of aircraft (for example, the above recent livestream). We are on the direct routes from Manhattan to East Hampton (mostly smaller low flying aircraft, around 2500 feet or lower) and Europe to JFK (jumbo jets at 10,000 feet), and there's an enormous amount of General Aviation, including a nearby farmer who jumps in his plane and circles over me whenever the skies are quieter. But I remember as a child of 10 looking up with interest when once every few days a plane appeared in the sky (as I still do in Eleuthera). The following graph ( tells the story:
Exponential growth since 1950 - doubling time approximately 11 years! What this means is that in my lifetime we have completely lost one of the most important attributes of the world: outdoor quiet! It's irrevocably gone, like the dodo, the Carolina parakeet and the ivory-billed woodpecker. I find this incredibly sad, and also appalling. Peace and quiet would, after food, shelter and friendship, top almost everyone's list of desires, but to all intents and purposes it's completely gone (except perhaps deep in the heart of the Hoh Rainforest of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula). All in the name of "convenience", and not even a whisper of protest.

From the Wikipedia article on aircraft noise:

"A large-scale statistical analysis of the health effects of aircraft noise was undertaken in the late 2000s by Bernhard Greiser for the Umweltbundesamt, Germany's central environmental office. The health data of over one million residents around the Cologne airport were analysed for health effects correlating with aircraft noise. The results were then corrected for other noise influences in the residential areas, and for socioeconomic factors, to reduce possible skewing of the data.[10]
The German study concluded that aircraft noise clearly and significantly impairs health.[10] For example, a day-time average sound pressure level of 60 decibels increasing coronary heart disease by 61% in men and 80% in women. As another indicator, a night-time average sound pressure level of 55 decibels increased the risk of heart attacks by 66% in men and 139% in women. Statistically significant health effects did however start as early as from an average sound pressure level of 40 decibels.[10]"

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Why is the Livestream Blurry? Compressing 8 hours to 30 minutes

I hope that some of you have been looking at the daily livestreams from the sanctuary at

However, I'm sure you also have found these livestreams (and the archived versions thereof) are rather blurry. I felt that the main reason was probably my limited upload bandwidth (~ 0.7 mbs with Verizon DSL). So I've been comparing the livestreamed version with simultaneously recorded straight-to-disk on the camera itself. Above are a couple of examples of the latter, which can be compared to the archived livestream itself:

Of course the clips are very short, and the livestream is very long (11 hours!) but it turns out there's not that much difference in the quality.  Please note that I'm annotating the archived livestreams with the timings of the perching episodes so you can immediately jump to the interesting bits. So in fact much of the blurriness is simply due to the pixellation introduced by the digital zoom I'm forced to use because of the long distance from camera to perch. Please Fred, start using a closer perch!
If you use Chrome as your browser, you could also consider adding the "Youtube Playback Speed Control" extension. This is a marvelous gadget that enables speeded-up,  up to 16X compared to the standard 2 X) playback of Youtube videos. If you use this on one of my 8-hour livestreams it rolls by in 30 minutes! Of course Fred's head jerks back and forth like a jackhammer, but don't worry it's not going to fall off! With this device I've discovered some very brief perching episodes that I cannot spot by simply scrubbing through the video, which might show only 1 frame every minute. Of course if you have not already done so you should also add the wonderful Adblock extension. Youtube without Adblock is hell.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Fred after sunset

Most evenings, well after sunset, Fred  joins me on the front deck overlooking the Sound, where the light hasn't yet completely faded, and feeds at the coral honeysuckle.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Cardinal Snaps Fred's Perch

I restarted livestreaming a few days ago with a new camera and vantage point. The above video shows yesterday's 8+ hour livestream, and if you jump to the time mark 1:12:35 (click on this timing in the caption) you'll see a huge cardinal arrives on Fred's perch and snaps it off! At first he has to cling to the remaining stump with one leg, but then regains his footing. Fortunately the remaining truncated twig is just long enough that both Fred and Bob can still perch. In fact Fred arrives at 1:22:32 and without missing a beat does a precision landing on the tiny stump.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Sanctuary News

I've had to temporarily suspend the livestreaming of Fred and Friends because my videocamera developed a fault: it wouldn't maintain its zoom. I've sent it in to Canon for repair and hopefully it will be back soon. You may remember that my other videocamera (SONY) is also under repair - it's been a lengthy process and still not done. In addition my phone has gone into "bootloop" spasms, so it's difficult to upload those videos either, and of course the phone has no zoom. I've been using this phone with an Osmo stabilizer, but these videos don't upload automatically. But here are a couple of fairly recent handheld phone videos showing some of our climbing roses.
It's very quiet hummerwise here, but this is typical for late june/early july, since the females are nesting and bringing almost exclusively insects, not nectar, to their chicks, and the males have all established territories. Fred is still spending quite a bit of time on his favorite perch and I'm looking forward to restarting the livestreams when I have a functioning camera.
Not much news on the ongoing attempt to transfer part of the sanctuary to the Seatuck Environmental Association. Seatuck is working with 4H to ensure reliable and convenient direct access, via their eastern driveway, but this has been delayed by the need to establish who actually owns the 4H property. So for the time being the general public cannot visit - only my numerous and faithful friends! (who should contact me privately if they haven't done so already.
By the way, for those of you that use blogger, you might be interested to learn how I managed to embed these videos, which automatically back up from my phone to my Google Photos account.  I did the top one the obvious, hard, way - I downloaded to my computer from Photos and then uploaded to Blogger. Time-consuming because it involves 2 upload steps. Since they are already uploaded to Photos, I reasoned there must be a way to embed them in a Blogger post (like one can embed simple stills) though its not obvious how. Here's the somewhat complicated but effective recipe. Voila the results (they look slightly different from the double-download route):